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The two sides of remote working
Over the years, we’ve come to understand that there are two sides to effective remote working. There is the technical side of things, the nuts and bolts of remote working. This includes ensuring that your team is set up correctly (see ActionPoint’s remote working checklist), that your team have the right tools and applications (see how Microsoft 365 enables remote working), and the proper security and data protection controls in place (check out our IT Mobility page for more details).
Then there is the side that is less discussed by IT partners, the soft skills required for effective remote working. Some of the most common questions we get asked by workers are to do with staying motivated, avoiding distraction and maintaining discipline when working from home. These are real concerns. When you work from home there are distractions and opportunities to procrastinate everywhere. Why? Because this is your familiar space. Things like washing, cleaning, the X-box and your bed are always nearby. So, in this article we will provide six simple tips for avoiding distraction and maintaining discipline when working from home.
1. Be Organised
Make sure you have everything you need before you sit down and start your day. This includes your phone, coffee, water bottle, pens, mouse, laptop charger, and notepads. Starting your day with a series of false starts (retrieving forgotten items) can unfortunately set the tone for a day of distraction.
2. Keep a To-Do List
Get in the habit of dumping everything that comes into your head into one dedicated notebook or whiteboard. As David Allen, the author of ‘Getting Things Done’ says, “Your brain is not a hard drive where you should store everything. It needs to be clear so it can have clarity, focus and be creative.” This includes everything from your partner’s birthday present, the shopping list, workday tasks, project ideas and anything else that is taking up mental space. This brain dump could take an hour or more each day/week. However, the clarity it can provide you with is invaluable. The key to productivity is to then prioritise and execute the important tasks first.
3. Keep a Blank Page Beside You for Spontaneous To-Dos
Added to the above, if something comes into your mind that is ‘house-related’, just take note of it and deal with it later. It’s important not to give into urges but these should not be ignored completely. If it’s urgent you can deal with it during your scheduled break.
4. Turn off Email Notifications
Schedule time each day to respond to emails. Plan when and for how long you will answer them, otherwise you could be at the mercy of your inbox all day. If you have something important that needs your focus do not start the task by reading emails. An unforeseen email could present a curveball that sends your morning into a spin.
5. Glue Your Feet to the Floor (Metaphorically Speaking)
You simply must be strong-willed and keep your feet glued to the floor. Stick to a routine, maintain a proper break schedule and be conscious of external triggers that are causing distraction. But just as important, don’t be afraid to leave 10-minute gaps in your schedule once or twice a day to give into distraction. Willpower is a limited resource and giving into distraction periodically can help in the long run.
6. Turn off Social Media Notifications
The main offender when it comes to distraction. You wouldn’t constantly check your social media account in the office so don’t do so at home. One of the simplest, and most effective, ways of avoiding the pull of social media is to turn off social media notifications.
At ActionPoint, we appreciate the challenges faced by companies adjusting to remote working environments. To learn more about our experiences in effective remote working, check out the following posts: